PDA

View Full Version : The 'Chip on the Shoulder' Syndrome



Stalwart
03-11-2013, 03:00 PM
I met with a state commander of the VFW last week while he was in DC for some national business. As we talked, through the conversation some aspects of my military service came up. He asked about my own membership in the VFW and I told him I used to be a member but had declined to renew my membership some time ago. He seemed surprised but asked why, I told him about what I found by a number of the members of the VFW where I had been to be a “chip on the shoulder” syndrome.

Despite having been in real no-kidding combat in Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, I was often told that these were not ‘real wars’ (which in at least two cases they weren’t – not for the U.S.) The propensity of the members to think that in 2001 Afghanistan or 2003 Iraq there were the creature comforts of modern life that is shown on the news is a gross miscalculation. We briefly discussed how I parachuted into Afghanistan and did not see a shower or hot meal for 68 days. My wife didn’t know where I was (other than I was probably in Afghanistan), multiple firefights, direct and indirect fire and calls for fire on targets seemed like a war to my team, regardless of the year that it took place in. I feel much of the feeling was based on how these men were treated when they came home. Their fathers who had fought in WWII were treated very differently by society than they were, but should that justify contempt for those who have fought after them? Whatever it was, when I interacted with these men, it felt like they were just itching for confrontation, not what I was looking for when I joined.

Part of the meeting with the VFW focused on recruiting the newest generation of our war veterans. My suggestion to him was that for many in my generation of veterans, we feel a fraternal bond to those who have gone before, a bond that those who have not experienced combat will not understand; but the loud and often angry discourse by what is a minority of their membership actually keeps away many of the people they (the leadership) are hoping to recruit. My hope is that when I go to their April monthly meeting I find a different crowd here than I did at the previous Post.

FLAPS
03-11-2013, 03:30 PM
I met with a state commander of the VFW last week while he was in DC for some national business. As we talked, through the conversation some aspects of my military service came up. He asked about my own membership in the VFW and I told him I used to be a member but had declined to renew my membership some time ago. He seemed surprised but asked why, I told him about what I found by a number of the members of the VFW where I had been to be a “chip on the shoulder” syndrome.

Despite having been in real no-kidding combat in Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, I was often told that these were not ‘real wars’ (which in at least two cases they weren’t – not for the U.S.) The propensity of the members to think that in 2001 Afghanistan or 2003 Iraq there were the creature comforts of modern life that is shown on the news is a gross miscalculation. We briefly discussed how I parachuted into Afghanistan and did not see a shower or hot meal for 68 days. My wife didn’t know where I was (other than I was probably in Afghanistan), multiple firefights, direct and indirect fire and calls for fire on targets seemed like a war to my team, regardless of the year that it took place in. I feel much of the feeling was based on how these men were treated when they came home. Their fathers who had fought in WWII were treated very differently by society than they were, but should that justify contempt for those who have fought after them? Whatever it was, when I interacted with these men, it felt like they were just itching for confrontation, not what I was looking for when I joined.

Part of the meeting with the VFW focused on recruiting the newest generation of our war veterans. My suggestion to him was that for many in my generation of veterans, we feel a fraternal bond to those who have gone before, a bond that those who have not experienced combat will not understand; but the loud and often angry discourse my what is a minority of their membership actually keeps away many of the people they (the leadership) are hoping to recruit. My hope is that when I go to their April monthly meeting I find a different crowd here than I did at the previous Post.

When the VFW "oldies" die off, so will the VFW.

spirit_eyes
03-11-2013, 04:45 PM
Now, I never did "boots on the ground", etc. but I did serve 20 ad. And those guys had the chip, also. Told me that, as vet, I didn't pay for care at the va. He'd never heard of the means test. Refused to tell us where to meet for the parades. All they wanted me for, was bingo. And to raise their membership count.

TVANSCOT
03-11-2013, 05:29 PM
This is typical of groups of people that make up the "good ol boy club" (this impacts many organizations not just the VFW). They want you membership (aka your money), but not your participation in their "club".

Pullinteeth
03-11-2013, 05:30 PM
Now, I never did "boots on the ground", etc. but I did serve 20 ad. And those guys had the chip, also. Told me that, as vet, I didn't pay for care at the va. He'd never heard of the means test. Refused to tell us where to meet for the parades. All they wanted me for, was bingo. And to raise their membership count.

I am confused, how did you become a member of the VFW without ever having "boots on the ground?"

Stalwart
03-11-2013, 06:22 PM
When the VFW "oldies" die off, so will the VFW.

I do hope that is not the case, they are an excellent organization that has good goals and an honorable cause.

FLAPS
03-11-2013, 10:15 PM
I do hope that is not the case, they are an excellent organization that has good goals and an honorable cause.

They need to do a MUCH better job at attracting us "young" people. I have yet to meet anyone still in who is interested in the VFW or AL.

Robert F. Dorr
03-11-2013, 11:20 PM
I met with a state commander of the VFW last week while he was in DC for some national business. As we talked, through the conversation some aspects of my military service came up. He asked about my own membership in the VFW and I told him I used to be a member but had declined to renew my membership some time ago. He seemed surprised but asked why, I told him about what I found by a number of the members of the VFW where I had been to be a “chip on the shoulder” syndrome.

Despite having been in real no-kidding combat in Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, I was often told that these were not ‘real wars’ (which in at least two cases they weren’t – not for the U.S.) The propensity of the members to think that in 2001 Afghanistan or 2003 Iraq there were the creature comforts of modern life that is shown on the news is a gross miscalculation. We briefly discussed how I parachuted into Afghanistan and did not see a shower or hot meal for 68 days. My wife didn’t know where I was (other than I was probably in Afghanistan), multiple firefights, direct and indirect fire and calls for fire on targets seemed like a war to my team, regardless of the year that it took place in. I feel much of the feeling was based on how these men were treated when they came home. Their fathers who had fought in WWII were treated very differently by society than they were, but should that justify contempt for those who have fought after them? Whatever it was, when I interacted with these men, it felt like they were just itching for confrontation, not what I was looking for when I joined.

Part of the meeting with the VFW focused on recruiting the newest generation of our war veterans. My suggestion to him was that for many in my generation of veterans, we feel a fraternal bond to those who have gone before, a bond that those who have not experienced combat will not understand; but the loud and often angry discourse by what is a minority of their membership actually keeps away many of the people they (the leadership) are hoping to recruit. My hope is that when I go to their April monthly meeting I find a different crowd here than I did at the previous Post.

As I've written elsewhere, the American Legion and VFW are out of touch with just about everybody in America and especially with younger veterans.

The first C-130 aircraft ever to be lost for any reason was shot down by Soviet fighters over Armenia in 1958. The crewmembers of that aircraft would have been ineligible to join either organization.

Having pulled two consecutive tours of duty in Korea between 1957 and 1960, I am not eligible to join the American Legion. Had I performed the same duties in Greenland I would have been ineligible to join the VFW. Because I was in Korea, I am eligible for the VFW and I did accept a life membership that was offered to me by a FVW post thatI helped with one of my columns, but I've never attended a meeting as a member. I have been invited as a speaker at meetings in both the Legion and VFW. I saw quite a bit of Somalia and Kosovo, too, as well as Panama and some other conflicts, but that was as a civilian author.

Both organizations are intended, using different definitions, as organizations for veterans who served in wartime. Neither was ever intended to be solely for those who have experienced combat.

I could fill volumes with my thoughts about these sexist, ritual-ridden, local taxpayer subsidized bars where old man gather to drink and smoke.

efmbman
03-12-2013, 01:09 AM
They need to do a MUCH better job at attracting us "young" people. I have yet to meet anyone still in who is interested in the VFW or AL.

I agree. I am thinking (hoping) that at some point in the near future younger vets will take the leadership positions in the organization. However, that is unlikely to happen unless there are younger members in the VFW to vote. I myself am going back and forth about joining.


We briefly discussed how I parachuted into Afghanistan...

Certainly not trying to deminish anything! I was unaware of a parachute operation in Afghanistan. Was assault credit awarded? If you don't mind, I would be curious to know more about this.

jondstewart
03-12-2013, 01:38 AM
I live just a mile down the road from the VFW post and been there twice. Once with the NCO Academy class as a Saturday volunteer project to clean up the place and second for the free drink I was awarded for having participated. It is interesting most of the members to this day were in the 1950's and 1960's military and the younger crowd probably feels they can't relate

I am blown away by the original posters testimony! I thought me being Air Force and having spent a whole year on a FOB in Afghanistan I didn't have it that easy! Only phones we had for calling back home were the ones in CQ and those German company phones you had a calling card for maybe 20 minutes a month. And there were only 2 laptop computers for personal internet and no wireless I knew of, since it was 2006.

Stalwart
03-12-2013, 01:54 AM
Certainly not trying to deminish anything! I was unaware of a parachute operation in Afghanistan. Was assault credit awarded? If you don't mind, I would be curious to know more about this.

Yes, there were several in the beginning from mid to late Oct. Yes, we recieved assault credit. PM me if you would like.


I am blown away by the original posters testimony! I thought me being Air Force and having spent a whole year on a FOB in Afghanistan I didn't have it that easy! Only phones we had for calling back home were the ones in CQ and those German company phones you had a calling card for maybe 20 minutes a month. And there were only 2 laptop computers for personal internet and no wireless I knew of, since it was 2006.

It wasn't exactly easy. No phones, no internet or anything. I didn't talk to my wife from the 2d of October until late December. It wasn't a year though, that sucks. I don't envy you.

BT BT

Maybe younger members getting into leaership positions would help the migration of the VFW into relating to the next generation of veterans. Not really sure.

JD2780
03-12-2013, 02:59 AM
I agree. I am thinking (hoping) that at some point in the near future younger vets will take the leadership positions in the organization. However, that is unlikely to happen unless there are younger members in the VFW to vote. I myself am going back and forth about joining.



Certainly not trying to deminish anything! I was unaware of a parachute operation in Afghanistan. Was assault credit awarded? If you don't mind, I would be curious to know more about this.

There have been a few. The Rangers have done a couple, plus there was conventional one early on. It just wasnt advertised for obvious reasons.

106PADDOCK
03-12-2013, 05:16 PM
Oddly enough, the VFW was formed by veterans of the Spanish-American War in response to them being scorned by the Civil War Veterans groups! I don't like the smoke stench of dark bars that often serve as the central focus of the DAV, VFW or AL Halls.There is something that makes me feel old and used up when I enter one of those places.

Pullinteeth
03-12-2013, 05:30 PM
I could fill volumes with my thoughts about these sexist, ritual-ridden, local taxpayer subsidized bars where old man gather to drink and smoke.

Dang Bob, you make it sound damn near irresistable....

OtisRNeedleman
08-27-2013, 05:43 AM
Did my twenty-plus, two tours in Korea, none in the sandbox. I neither know nor care if I am eligible to join either the VFW or the American Legion. Have no desire to join either one. Since I don't drink, smoke, or want to listen to the same old stories ad infinitum, ad nauseam, neither organization has any attraction for me whatsoever. I don't believe either organization, barring some surprise, will be around at the start of the next century.

Mr. Squid
08-27-2013, 03:18 PM
Unless there's some serious culture change within the AL and VFW, they might as well just combine and rename themselves the New Grand Army of the Republic.

BENDER56
09-30-2013, 07:42 PM
I am confused, how did you become a member of the VFW without ever having "boots on the ground?"

I haven't looked into it, but I was told during a VA retirement briefing that I would be eligible to join the VFW because I had the GWOT Expeditionary Medal. Or maybe it was the AF Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border ... I forget now.

Anyway, my "boots on the ground" experience that earned me those awards was two tours in al Udeid. Which as anyone who has been there knows, is more like, "shower shoes on the ground".

Edit: this is from the VFW's website:

"If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join our ranks."

Absinthe Anecdote
09-30-2013, 08:03 PM
I went to the VFW post nearest me because I was interested in playing the bugle for ceremonies.

The post in question was glad to have me stop by but seemed a little puzzled by me wanting to volunteer my time for color guard duties. We don’t have a color guard at this post was the reply.

After about an hour of talking to them and asking what volunteer opportunities were available I found out that most of their members at that particular post are auxiliary members (not even military veterans).

This post was basically a Baltimore Ravens booster club in disguise as a VFW post.

There was zero “chip on the shoulder” attitude at this post, they have great parties on game day during football season and chilli cookoffs.

Pullinteeth
09-30-2013, 08:11 PM
I haven't looked into it, but I was told during a VA retirement briefing that I would be eligible to join the VFW because I had the GWOT Expeditionary Medal. Or maybe it was the AF Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border ... I forget now.

Anyway, my "boots on the ground" experience that earned me those awards was two tours in al Udeid. Which as anyone who has been there knows, is more like, "shower shoes on the ground".

Edit: this is from the VFW's website:

"If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join our ranks."

Exactly....you were in the AOR...that is "boots on the ground." Like those in England in WWII. According to Spirit Eyes, she never had boots on the ground and still got in. If you never deployed, I am not sure how one would be eligible.

BENDER56
09-30-2013, 09:22 PM
Exactly....you were in the AOR...that is "boots on the ground." Like those in England in WWII. According to Spirit Eyes, she never had boots on the ground and still got in. If you never deployed, I am not sure how one would be eligible.

Maybe Korea?